There is a charm to a local sports broadcast. Sports is about energy, and passion, and a way to draw that out of fans is with the MCs of the event.
While the local broadcast team is clearly biased, it’s more MSNBC than Fox News. Their job is not to paint themselves in the team colors and lead “de-fense” chants, but they do service the fans who tuned in to watch the local team do battle. So when something is amiss, the local sports broadcaster is there to feel it with the viewer.
On Wednesday night, Grizzlies broadcasters Pete Pranica and Brevin Knight voiced the incredulity of basketball fans from eastern Arkansas to Northern Mississippi during the Memphis Grizzlies’ 124-122 overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs.
With 19.7 seconds remaining in overtime, the Grizzlies held a 123-118 lead when Jakob Poeltl secured a rebound. The Spurs began to run, but the clock didn’t. It stayed at 19.7 when the Spurs scored. It didn’t start again until the confused Grizzlies attempted to inbound the ball and it was stolen by Jeremy Sochan and their lead was down to one point.
It was at this moment that Pranica and Knight put on a performance that would make Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Tommy Heinsohn look on in awe. Pranica yelled nothing for the entire untimed possession except for repeating, “The clock didn’t start!... The clock didn’t start!” The two were so furious at the referees that, at one point, they stopped broadcasting. After the turnover and score, the referees stopped play, and came by the scorer’s table to try and sort out what happened.
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Then, when the referees were huddled, Pranica and Knight removed their headsets (shout out to the production team for getting this live on camera) and explained to the zebras what happened. The referees were in eye-to-eye contact with a local broadcast team, listening to them like they were the replay officials in Secaucus, N.J. Knight was so frustrated that he didn’t put his headset back on for almost a full minute, as he stared at the referees so hard that it looked like he was trying to make them levitate with his mind.
Eventually, the Spurs kept the points but it was determined that there should be 9.3 seconds remaining in the game. The Grizzlies would go on to win, so Ja Morant was able to get a laugh out of the situation when he saw the clip of the broadcasters’ interaction with the referees.
If I was a Grizzlies fan, that is the energy I need from my broadcast team. Even though I’m not a Grizzlies fan, Pranica and Knight’s reaction still made the viewing experience exponentially more entertaining. Go ahead, rip off the headsets. I don’t need you talking to me right now, there’s no action. Get those people with the whistles to properly officiate the game.
Raw emotion, that’s why sports make the big bucks.
Jeff Van Gundy might have gone on a rant about how he’s been upset with timekeeping in the NBA since he was an assistant with the New York Knicks if he was on the broadcast, but it wouldn’t have been as relatable. He’s constantly riled up. It’s something to wait for when he’s calling a game, and those rants are one reason why he’s on ESPN’s top NBA broadcast team.
Pranica and Knight acted as if someone had taken their headsets and ran off with them. They were equal parts startled and incensed, and it came across on the broadcast. A perfect reaction to such an unusual occurrence.
This a great example of why the local broadcaster is vital. Sometimes you just need someone — using work-appropriate language of course — to yell at an entire metropolitan area the same thing you just did at your TV.